Category Archives: Conferences

Why You Should Always Submit Proposals: My Surprising Experience at my First Conference

Meadowbrook Hall, Oakland University by Wm. Chris Rowland, II

As a second year graduate student this past fall, I found myself headed to the International Conference of Romanticism at Oakland University with few goals other than to make it through my panel without throwing up, and to not look like an idiot in front of my peers. The fact that I was even in the conference was a surprise, after all I had only submitted my paper proposal just inside the deadline that summer at the encouragement of my fellow Romanticists at Arizona State. “I don’t know if I’m even ready to submit to a conference like this,” I wrote in an email responding to their reminder of the upcoming deadline. I might not have been, but with the encouragement of Kent and Kaitlin I submitted anyway, and not soon after the first surprise came—I had been accepted. Thankfully the two of them had been as well, so I figured I would have at least two people at my panel in September. As the date of the conference approached, we made the group decision to not attend the official banquet largely due to financial concerns, and believing that none of us had a chance at winning the competitive Lore Metzger Prize, which went to the best essay read by a graduate student at the conference.

Well reader, I won that prize. Instead of learning this news at the banquet where I could have stood up and been recognized for my paper “The Undead Presence: Exploring Boundaries of Life, Death and Sex in ‘Christabel,’ ‘The Skeleton Priest,’ and ‘The Aerial Chorus’” by my fellow Romantic scholars, I found out via text message from Jacob while I was at an Irish pub down the street. I was lucky enough to have Kaitlin and Kent by my side at that moment to congratulate me, but the initial shock of that moment has yet to wear off. I am so honored to have won such a prestigious award not only because I was a second-year graduate student and that it was my first Romantic conference and first out of state conference, but because I wrote about something I am truly passionate about. Talking about the importance of walking, talking corpses in Romantic literature seems risky, but it paid off.

“So halfway from her bed she rose, And on her elbow did recline to look at the Lady Geraldine.”

The lessons I learned from this experience are significant, and I believe, important to share. First, if you are lucky enough to find a community in your university that encourages and supports you, listen to them. They might know of potential you do not see in yourself. I would not have even tried to be at ICR if it wasn’t for the kind (but firm!) push from Kent and Kaitlin to submit a proposal, and I would not have won the award for best graduate paper without the edits and suggestions given to me by the ASU 19th Century Colloquium. Peer review is good, honest peer review with your best intentions in mind is fantastic—and absolutely integral to succeeding in the academic field. Secondly, always submit a proposal. Even if you think there is no chance in hell that you will be accepted to present at that conference, or be asked to write a chapter for that book, do it anyway. Not only is it excellent practice, but it will also force you to be more confident in your ideas and get your name out there. When you get accepted (because you undoubtedly will with all those submissions), have your work critiqued by people you trust and respect. They will tell you the truth, strengthen your argument, and you will be better for it. And finally, write about what you love. Zombies and vampires and all the variations inside and outside of those categories might be a laughable topic at first, but I truly believe that if I had gone to ICR with anything else than that, anything other than something I am passionate about to the point of insanity, I would not have won the Lore Metzger Prize. So take those risks, submit those proposals—the outcome could surprise you.

Oh, and always fork over the money and go to the banquet.

Emily Zarka

Quarterly Editor’s Note: Collaboration & The Rush of New Insights

From one of the colder sites of the “Polar Vortex 2014,” I write to wish everyone within the orbit of romanticism (and beyond) a very happy, healthy, and successful New Year. The concluding months of 2013 brought with it the installation of a highly engaged and innovative new cadre of writers, with established authors Aaron Ottinger and newly elected NGSC Co-chair Laura Kremmel continuing to publish on the blog, making the autumn season an incredibly exciting one. There were no fewer than sixteen pieces generated in the better part of the last three months of the year. Writers explored a range of topics from the formation of scholarly collectivities, the importance of self-reflexivity regarding the possibilities and limits of reading practices, to new imaginings of cross-disciplinary approaches to romantic literature. An immediate and special congratulations goes out, as well, to blogger Renee Harris, who was selected to present new work at the Keats Foundation Conference, “Keats and His Circle,” at the Hampstead House this spring.

In my first editor’s note, posted in October, I made the proposition that this blog comprises a space where the “rush of new insights” might be most immediately felt (especially with respect to the sharing of concepts driving work-in-progress). This was most certainly the case across the autumn’s trajectory. In what follows, I highlight what I found to be some of the more interesting and important new threads of inquiry that appeared in the last few months. I’ll also make some suggestions regarding what is to be expected going forward, into 2014.

Deven Parker’s introductory piece “Towards a Tangible Romanticism” holds out the promise of very important work to come. In it, Deven outlines a new resolutely materialist approach to the interpretation of Romantic culture based on what she critically terms  “an archaeological hermeneutics.” Taking a disciplinary point of origin in Deven’s initial undergraduate training in archaeology at Penn, the proposed method pivots, as Deven puts it, on the notion that a book retains “a relation to all other objects of the same type” with strata of meaning retaining the potential to be excavated on the basis of things like choice of verse. This comes in comparative relation to other literary texts, but with a vocabulary that significantly breaks from well-worn tropes and idioms in literary studies, with the result that books come into view as simultaneously “local and transhistorical artifacts.” At its core, Deven’s method—as it seems to me—offers myriad illuminating directions for shifts in focus and understandings of relations that comprise the materiality and conditions through which the texts and objects we study are generated, received, used, and redeployed.

Arden Hegele’s November blog publication—“Romantic Geologies and Post-Organic Forms”—represents some of the very best new thinking I’ve encountered as of late. Her ability to collegially engage with, and synthesize, work by the caucus graduate authors was as enlightening as it was inspiring. By highlighting the “fundamental” as a core concept connecting the blogging being undertaken by other caucus members, Arden brings out the ways in which our group is returning to the cornerstone issues upon which Romantic studies is constructed—and it is this thread that I hope other authors will continue to draw out over the next year. Arden directs our attention to vexing questions so often taken for granted: what represent the fundamental principles with which we define the scope and body of materials we study? What are the methods we use to pursue this, and what are the temporal and theoretical limits and possibilities for Romantic studies, with respect to the nineteenth-century and beyond? Arden’s pointing to geology was crucial in this regard—and her luminous turn to look at the ways the “instability of Romantic geology shook the foundations of the period’s poetry” generates a vital potentiality of thought. Just as well, I was grateful for Arden’s bringing genre into our continuing conversation on the blog—in a reading of Group Phi, whose writing on the topic as both “sedimented” and “metamorphic” Arden nicely highlights. I was especially compelled by the way Arden amplified the importance of Phi’s theorization, arguing that thinking about genre in geological terms endows the interpretive act with a particular urgency given the politics of our own contemporary moment. It’s connected, as Arden so memorably contends, with “the ethics of geotechnical excavation, and particularly the problem of violently appropriating formerly organic structures, now metamorphosed into inorganic matter (oil).”

More recently, Nicole Geary and myself, in conversation with Arden, took this thinking as a point of departure for considering how the field of geology represents a rich zone for thinking through our own respective practices—artistic, literary, and art-historical. This led to the first collectively written post on the blog, with the broader purpose of exploring the relation between romanticism and contemporary visual culture. Ultimately, it is my wish that multiple authors collaborate in the new NGSC “Dialogues” series to produce one jointly-written post per quarter.

Further, on the collaborative front, we saw three illuminating posts by different authors belonging to the Arizona State University 19th-C Colloquium. In their first piece, Kent Linthicum spoke to not only how their scholarly collective was formed, but also to the logic defining its practices, which hinges upon an ever-present “focus on professionalization.” It struck me that this is precisely what the caucus community is doing as well, and am convinced of the importance of getting clearer on precisely what professionalism and the process of becoming professional means within the context of our field. Also, on the point of collaboration, and interdisciplinary on another axis, Jennifer Leeds published her recent interview with the political scientist and author of Jane Austen, Game Theorist Michael Chwe in December. Jennifer and Professor Chwe’s discussion proves absolutely exemplary for locating the ways in which texts produced by a figure on which many of us work can represent a field through which we might re-think a range of issues at the nexus of different disciplinary frameworks, practices, and values. This, of course, is to say nothing of the brilliance with which Jennifer approached the interview, bringing into play her own crucial investments with respect to gender and the challenging of heteronormativity on the basis of the pervasive configuring force of homo-social and –sexual relations in the nineteenth-century novel. Jennifer’s including these concepts in the interview yielded highly productive results, which I found thrilling.

In short, I am pleased that the state of the Romantic studies blog(e)sphere is very strong entering 2014—and I enthusiastically look forward to reading the critical mass of writing that will appear in this forum in the coming months.

Books Are Good. Ebooks Are Good. Both are Better: Avoiding the Word “Versus” in the Future of Libraries

We bookish types are worried about our books. Articles, conferences, discussions, podcasts and references in all the social media about the future of libraries and of reading have become common and seemingly endless. Physical books versus internet sources, libraries versus digital texts, bookstores versus ebook orders, even letters versus emails. It seems that, when we talk about the increasing popularity of the digital humanities, the word “versus” inevitably comes into use, despite our best intentions. But, should it, and why? That’s one of the many questions that came up throughout a one-day conference at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia on December 6th in celebration the astounding 225th anniversary of its library. The conference was titled, “Emerging Roles for Historical Medical Libraries: Value in the Digital Age,” and was comprised of five speakers from different perspectives, all dealing with historical medical libraries in some capacity and highlighting what they considered to be the values and stakes of this “versus” debate. Below, I’ve gathered some of the points made during each scholar’s talk, points that I found relevant for anyone invested in libraries and research. For more detail about the conference program, visit the library website.

Jacalyn Duffin on the archive as treasure hunt:

Dr. Duffin presented her experiences with texts that had been reprinted through several editions across many libraries as she stumbled across other texts and historical figures through library exploration: she spoke to archivists and librarians, poked around shelves, and paid close attention to marginalia and illustrations. Sounds like the typical book-loving-researcher’s story: reassuring to hear and gratifying with which to agree. She also discussed the cost of knowledge, however: how does digitization affect cost, and is this effect positive or negative? Editions of the books she was researching went from expensive, to print on demand, to digitized on ECCO (though only for a university audience). Despite these changes, she reiterated that space and place are still incredibly important in understanding the book and its contexts. Duffin ended by posing a familiar question, with a haunting response: “Why libraries? Maybe we won’t know why we need them until they’re gone.”

Jeffrey Reznick on methods of assessing libraries from a national perspective:

Dr. Reznick brought the perspective of the National Library of Medicine and discussed methods of assessing libraries as well as his own experiences as a reader. Much of his talk referenced other books and sources on the topic, showing a myriad of different perspectives. Some of the many I found myself furiously copying into my notes include: IndexCat, Library 2020, and Circulating Now.

Nancy Cervetti on the library as place of creative power:

Dr. Cervetti brought perhaps the strongest literary perspective to the conversation, providing a list of exciting texts about literary depictions of archives and written materials, peppering her talk with quotes from Foucault and Derrida. She herself had begun as a scholar of literature who, through archival digging, started leaning towards history of medicine, particularly related to Weir Mitchell (who famously invented the “rest cure”). As Duffin did, Cervetti stressed the importance of being present in the archive in order to interact with librarians and to make discoveries through exploration, creating a multidimensional understanding of a subject rather than simply gathering information.

Mary Fissell on books as records of readers and readership:

Dr. Fissell shared her experiences using the College of Physicians Library collections in order to trace the readership of books through marginalia, looking at the book as an artifact that has its own subtext hidden in individual detail. Her work with recipe books showed readers interacting with the text and using it to keep track of experiences. She reiterated previously-made points about respecting and valuing the physical book for its differences among editions and the information its size, texture, and material can bring to our understanding of it. At the same time, she could not have pursued her project without the aid of digital archives and resources. The digital can help us use the archive and vice versa. They should be seen as tools to aid each other.

Simon Chaplin on rebuilding the library:

Dr. Chaplin is the head of the Wellcome Library in London, a “free library for the incurably curious,” its strength in the medical humanities. The Wellcome is in the process of remodeling its library and museum space, and Chaplin discussed the techniques of the library to boost its readership to match its museum patronage. The library will intertwine the library with the museum, making it easier for visitors to stumble upon (a key phrase throughout the conference) and make discovers by whim, according to a thematic organization. This new design speaks to a re-prioritization of the library to include more things. Accessibility and applicability will make it a place visitors want to explore. “Libraries don’t have to die!” he claims. They simply need to be willing to change and help people recognize what they already do so well: to “create questions where none existed previously.”

While all five speakers lauded the advantages and the joys of archival research, celebrating the place, space, contacts, and objects of books, some of the questions posed by the audience spoke to the dangers of denying the practicalities and the benefits of digitization in favor of over-romanticizing the rare book archive. I have heard sessions at conferences and by visiting speakers, either in vague praise of ever-changing technological advances in the humanities or full of anxious or romanticized defense of libraries: however, it seems both more useful and more difficult to discuss how these two archival methods complement each other. When questions arose pleading the necessity of digitization and online research, the speakers were very eager to admit that, of course, they never could have done their research without preliminary or follow-up investigation.

Yet, why does this feel like a concession? We’re worried about our books and their disappearance. Yes, libraries are in danger, for many reasons that I will not go into here, but perhaps it’s time to ease back from the admirable and protective tributes to libraries and focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the two types of research as they work together. This topic would be extremely complicated and (perhaps) contentious but would perhaps also help us to cement an inseparable relationship between the two and to achieve a vocabulary for talking about that bond that can support libraries better than a spirited defense. We don’t need libraries or online archives. What we need is both.

Dr. Brandy Schillace has also covered this event on her excellent blog, The Daily Dose!

Young Poets. Young Scholars.

When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in England for a semester, and as part of my Modern British Poetry class, I took a literary pilgrimage to Wentworth Place, Keats’s home in Hampstead. This trip was genuinely transformative for me, as it fueled a fantasy that I was John Keats’s lover in another life (hey, we all have our literary crushes). And more importantly it began my creative and scholarly work on the poet. As I wandered room to room, swooning over the handwritten manuscript of “Ode to a Nightingale” in the corridor and tearing up at the death mask encased in the library, I hadn’t a thought of my future with the poet.  But this week I received an acceptance to the first ever Keats Foundation conference at the Hampstead house.  And I began to reflect back on my 20-year-old self and how she would laugh to know that she would return to Wentworth Place as a career Keatsian almost a decade later.

Over the last month, I have been thinking a lot about how identity gets organized, both my own as I am beginning to define myself as a young scholar and that of the poets I study.  This all came about as I prepared proposals for the Keats and His Circle conference in Hampstead and NASSR 2014.  For each of these, I am looking to begin some foundational dissertation work that looks at identity organization in the Cockney School.

Journalist, poet, and radical Leigh Hunt attempts to organize the second generation of Romantic poets in his creative works and his weekly newspaper The Examiner. Though he never writes an overt manifesto and never claims the emergent artists of Romanticism’s second generation as “his” school, I believe he constructs a clear political and artistic mission for himself and his friends. In The Examiner on December 1, 1816, Leigh Hunt published the “Young Poets” article, which announced a new school of poetry led by Percy Shelley, John Hamilton Reynolds, and John Keats (with a nod to Lord Byron). As he writes here and elsewhere, this new school was not innovative so much as restorative, returning the focus of modern poetry to “true” nature and more genuine understandings of “human nature.”

Hunt organizes their poetic identity both as an extension of and reaction to the first generation (esp. after the publication of Wordsworth’s Excursion, lambasted by Byron, Hunt, and Hazlitt as the mark of Wordsworth’s establishment allegiance). He says the new poets are continuing the cultural work begun with the linguistic and political experiments of Lyrical Ballads, a project he believes the now conservative first generation has abandoned. As he defines the cultural work to be done by his school of artists and political reformers, he touts the revolutionary power of loose versification and conversational language (he maintains that the language of conversation is the language of “true nature” and “nativeness”), but he also touts cheerfulness and sociality, as opposed to the Wordsworthian egotistical sublime–poetic insight emerging through solitude. Hunt and crew value brotherly love, charity, and a mutual support of fellow beings. And they uphold these virtues in contrast to the modern vices of extreme individualism, commercial interests, and exploitation of the disenfranchised.

As applied to this circle, the term “Cockney School” in itself demonstrates the ways in which identity gets imposed upon a person or group. Famously, “Z,” a semi-anonymous critic for the Edinburgh Review, printed a series of vicious essays on this group of liberal (and often dissenting) intellectuals from the London suburbs, titled “On the Cockney School of Poetry.”  According to Z, the school was headed by Leigh Hunt, and included such figures as Keats, Webb, Haydon, and Hazlitt.  His reviews frequently digressed from the work of this school, using ad hominem attacks to belittle the men with their shortcomings in class–all with the intent to discredit this second generation of Romantic artists because of their politics.  Intriguingly, pieces of this class prejudice against Cockneys precedes the era, and the stereotype can be seen today in the classic appropriation of Liza Doolittle style Cockney accents in parodies of the English.  A particular favorite of mine in the last year has been Fred Armisen’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II as a sort of Cockney thug on Saturday Night Live.

Nevertheless, the Hunt circle appropriated the qualities of this pejorative stereotype and other labels applied to them, reading into these intended delimitations a revolutionary power for greater liberty. Z complained of their inferior education, their limited knowledge of Greek and Latin, but for Cockneys like Hunt, Keats, and Reynolds translations and retellings proved more democratic, opening new worlds of knowledge and opportunity for people of middle and working class backgrounds. Chapman’s Homer introduces Keats to new peaks, new oceans, new planets, horizons previously inaccessible. Z complained of their vulgarity and obscenity, but Hunt, Keats, and Shelley celebrated sensual overflow and freedom of expression.  Their poems portray this liberty literally by catalogues of sensory images and metaphorically by unconventional representations of love (sympathetic idolaters, demon lovers, love triangles, etc.).

In a trend I find problematic, Keats scholars of the twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries perpetuate a prejudice against Keats’s supposed Cockney roots, often undervaluing the politically engaged young Keats of 1816-1817.  Moreover, they divorce his later work from Hunt’s influence (rightly so, perhaps, as Keats distanced himself from Hunt for numerous personal and professional reasons). As a young scholar just beginning my work on Keats’s Cockney roots, I don’t know yet to what extent I agree that Keats’s work transcends his Cockney identity.  Though his 1820 volume may demonstrate sophistication well beyond the wrenched rhymes or weak adverbial descriptors of Huntian style, his thematic concerns remain deeply Cockneyfied.  Romances like Isabella; Or the Pot of Basil and Lamia betray his continued resistance against a modern capitalist economy that exploits both human and nonhuman resources.  And even his great ode sequence, which ostensibly celebrates a pure aestheticism, carries the taint of political agenda and historicity.  The nightingale disappears, the poet awakes. He returns to a historical reality of the Six Acts, the Corn Law Protests, Peterloo, disenfranchisement, disease, and personal loss. To say the least, his 1820 volume shows a conflicted relationship with the Hunt school (perhaps a topic for another post).

Armisen’s Queen from SNL 2013

I feel immensely fortunate to have the opportunity to explore London and its suburbs again, as a slightly more seasoned romanticist, Keatsian, and anglophile. And while I will not adopt a phony Cockney accent for the duration of my visit, I will expand upon my original pilgrimage, exploring the sites that were key to the school’s development.  On the list thus far, other than Hampstead Heath, of course: Edmonton, Enfield, Guy’s Hospital, and the Vale of Health.  I will keep you apprised of my plans for exploration as well as archival research as the reality of this trip continues to set in.

Never Have I Ever Read

Photo courtesy of:
The Eve of St. Agnes Millais (1863)

At the beginning of summer, my husband, our two basset hounds, the cat and I moved into a little white rental house with a backyard. And once we had unpacked all our books, installed a makeshift closet in the back room (in the whole house, we have one tiny little 2×3 feet closet in the bedroom), and felt sufficiently settled to have company, we threw a housewarming party.

Naturally, ninety-percent of our guests were English grad students, and, as we were sitting around the fire-pit in our new backyard, someone suggested we play a literary version of the party classic “Never Have I Ever.” In the original game, the players take turns admitting to something they have never done (never have I ever been skiing–a sad truth!), and each person who has done the event loses a point until only one person is left with points, or something of the sort. In our version, we shamefully admitted works we had never read, and the other players were to put down a finger of the full ten with which they started. Of course, we awarded a slight handicap of negative five points to the only three non-bookish types (my husband the mathematician, a former history major, and a physicist) to make the game somewhat fair.

We were never quite clear on the goal of the game, since in our circle there seemed more pride in “losing” the game than surviving to the end with fingers still raised. In fact, one of our friends “lost” twice by the time we called the game. And we were all envious. But we went round and round, enjoying ourselves immensely.

“Never have I ever read Moby Dick.”
“Never have I ever read Huck Finn.”
“Never have I ever read Beloved.”

I have been studying for comprehensive exams for the past five months, and while I have read a significant number of the works on my lists in past graduate seminars, I feel like the whole process is a long game of “Never have I ever read…”

At the University of Kansas, where I am in my third year of doctoral studies, you compose three lists with your committee–two of which are time period lists (your area and an adjacent time period) and the third is a list of your own choosing (often an author, literary theory, a genre, etc). As a Romanticist with a fairly extensive background in Victorianism, I have chosen my period lists to form the full nineteenth century in British literature, and my final list is geared toward the Leigh Hunt Circle as I prepare for a dissertation focusing on Keats, the Cockney School, and how this context shaped his conception of “work.”

After reading criticism and biographies for the last two months as I try to whittle away at the dissertation list, I have switched to fiction for a much needed breather. I find it heartening to zip through a couple of novels in a week, when I have been slogging through nonfiction for what seems like a lifetime (and I will say I have read several “lifetimes” in that list, and highest praise must go to Nicholas Roe’s 2012 Keats biography. I have added it to the ever-growing list of books I wish I had written). In anticipation of the Halloween season, I scheduled myself several gothic novels in a row. And last week, I read Wuthering Heights for the first time.

Perhaps I just permanently altered your opinion of my clout as a nineteenth-century scholar. Well, so be it. I certainly admit the sad fact with a touch of shame. But now I have checked it off my list of never-have-I-ever-reads, and I have moved on to the next novel that somehow fell through the gaps in my long tenure as a literature student.

I feel this game “Never Have I Ever Read” haunts literature scholars. It certainly helps us flesh out syllabi–how else will we force ourselves to finally pick up Dombey and Son if we do not assign our students (and ourselves!) to read it?–and the game even fuels our research, it seems.

Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to Portland and presenting on a Romanticism panel at the Rocky Mountain MLA. This conference has become a tradition for a couple colleagues and me, who would likely never travel and present together otherwise since our areas are so diverse. I presented on the connection between architectural structures and female bodies in Keats’s romances. I looked at the way in which the lived experience of female bodies, specifically in rape narratives, becomes abstracted into a symbol (the first step of which is the equation of the female body to the house or palace that protects her–i.e. Madeline is endangered because her house is penetrated in “The Eve of St. Agnes”). This cultural phenomenon is allegorical in so far as the female body comes to represent social bodies (structures) in various forms through literature and even political propaganda. The specific and material become crystallized into a generic trope that can be circulated, translated, and exchanged, depending upon the terms of its use, its ability to anger, inspire, manipulate.

In the Q&A portion of the panel, another presenter asked if I had read Cymbeline. I shook my head and shyly admitted I had not. Despite taking two courses in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, never had I ever read, seen, or even heard a plot summary of the play. Nor is the classic John Middleton Murry volume Keats and Shakespeare listed among my secondary texts for comprehensive exams.

Nevertheless, I did my research that evening in my hotel room, and discovered much speculation on the play’s influence in Keats’s portrayal of Madeline’s boudoir. Indeed, Charles Cowden Clarke wrote, “I saw [Keats’s] eyes fill with tears, and his voice faltered,” as the poet read aloud from the play in summer 1816 (qtd. on page 56 of Walter Jackson Bate’s biography of Keats). In addition to speculation on the scenery, importantly, Imogen has been reading the story of Tereus and Philomela before falling asleep. According to Greek mythology, Tereus rapes Philomela and cuts out her tongue so that she cannot report the assault. Jove later transforms Philomela into a nightingale, and her song becomes an echo of sexual violence throughout literature, including T.S. Eliot’s “The Fire Sermon” in The Wasteland (a piece I have read many times since first crossing it off my never-have-I-ever list in high school).

Scholars speculate on what the literary greats have read (or not read) as an everyday practice. My fellow-scholar who asked if I had read Cymbeline was presenting truly stellar archival research that sought to uncover whether Keats had read various seventeenth-century ballads on nightingales. She lamented that we do not know to what volumes he had access while staying with Benjamin Bailey at Oxford in the summer of 1817. And as she had not yet read Roe’s recent Keats biography, she did not know the conflict between Bailey and Keats’s London friends, and why Charles Brown and other early biographers would not have contacted him to inquire about Keats’s reading that summer. Even in their lifetimes, Keats and Leigh Hunt gained the label “Cockney” as a class slur partially due to the fact that they never had ever read mythology in the original Greek, and instead got their knowledge of the classics through translations.

Next up on my reading schedule is Northanger Abbey, and I will be reading it for the first time. This will be my last novel for a while, and, as I want to preserve my reputation with you at least beyond my first blog post, I will not admit the Romantic poetry I will be reading next week–for the first time.

Emerging Connections: Graduate Student Professionalization Workshop, June 12, University of Tokyo

This year’s NASSR supernumerary conference, “Romantic Connections” offers graduate students a special opportunity to network in a global community of Romanticists. We invite graduate students at any stage of their degrees to attend “Emerging Connections,” a one-day workshop to be held at the University of Tokyo on June 12th, 2014. The graduate workshop precedes the main NASSR conference, “Romantic Connections” which runs from June 13 to 15, 2014. Abstracts for conference presentations are due November 30 (though the workshop is open to all graduate students, whether presenting a paper or not).

Panels will be led by scholars from North America, the U.K, and Asia. We will cover a broad range of topics, including skills, professionalization, and the future of the academy. An evening reception will provide the opportunity to network with other young scholars. Fees for the day (excluding accommodation) will be around $100 (10,000 yen).

Registration for Emerging Connections will be available alongside registration for the larger conference. For questions and information about the event, please contact

Provisional timetable:

9.30 Welcome and Introductions

9.45 – 11.00 Research in a Connected World: new research trends and technologies, journals and digital forums, publication advice and strategies, collaborations

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee break

11.30 – 12.30 Approaches to Education: teaching philosophies in different cultures, comparing university systems, defining the value of liberal arts study in the 21st century

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break

13.30 – 15.00  Careers in Global Context: the academic job market in different countries, international post-docs and study opportunities, alternate and non-traditional careers, career management strategies.

15.00 – 15.30 Roundtable: The Academy in 2050

16.00 – 18.00 Cultural event (Tour of local sites, etc)

19.00 Evening Reception


Thinking Ahead to NASSR 2014: “Romantic Organizations”

Library of Congress Reading Room

We’re nearing the end of Spring Semester 2013, which means NASSR 2013 is also near, in August, and NASSR 2014 organizers are already planning away.

The co-organizers of NASSR 2014, Professors Richard C. Sha and Patrick O’Malley, would like our input as to what topics graduate students would like to learn about at this wonderful annual conference for Romanticists. The NASSR 2014 theme is “Romantic Organizations” and it will be held 10-13 July 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Professor Sha tells us “Already, 25 special sessions have been planned with such speakers as Tim Morton, Marjorie Levinson, Tilottama Rajan, Robert Mitchell, Rei Terada, Nora Crook, Julie Carlson, Mark Lussier, Michael Macovski, Orrin Wang, Joel Faflak, Adrianna Craciun, Nick Halmi, Peter Otto, and others.  Co-organizers have invited the NEH to come speak about funding. In addition, The Library of Congress is opening its doors, and will prepare a special exhibit of Romantic items in its collections, including manuscripts of Beethoven, Blake, and from Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign.”

Professor Sha’s generous email inquiry asks us to respond with a few ideas for the following questions. This is a wonderful opportunity to suggest our research questions and professionalization interests to conference planners.

  1. What topics, related to the conference theme of “Romantic Organizations,” would graduate students most like to see presentations on? In other words: what are we working on that might fit this theme?
  2. If we were to have a special session, what topic might it focus on?
  3. Do you have requests for our annual Caucus-sponsored roundtable event that focuses on professionalization?

Let’s get this conversation started so that we can give co-organizers our responses promptly. Thanks for your input!